Going through a divorce can be an isolating experience. However, if your marriage is coming to an end, you can rest assured you’re not alone. According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, there were over 118,000 divorces in England and Wales in 2012 alone. Amid all the upset and upheaval of a separation, it’s all too easy to forget about finances. However, if you don’t act quickly to protect your money and assets, you could find you’re left out of pocket. As well as being unjust, this could make moving on and rebuilding your life even more difficult.
It’s therefore vital that you understand your rights, and this is where expert solicitors such as The Law House really come into their own. Of course, even the best legal specialists can’t take the pain out of your divorce, but they can help you to safeguard your finances. They will be able to guide you through all of the following issues, and more.
Of all your possessions, your home may be your most precious – not to mention your most valuable. Exactly how you go about protecting this asset will depend on your precise circumstances. If the property is registered in your spouse’s name alone, you may need to take action to stop it being sold or remortgaged without your knowledge. To do this, you’ll have to register your interest by filling in the relevant form. Your solicitor will guide you through this process and, once it’s complete, your ex will not be able to sell or remortgage without telling you first.
If you both own the property, things are a little more complicated. If you own the property equally between you, you’re referred to as ‘joint tenants’. Under these arrangements, when one of you dies, the other inherits the property, regardless of what’s said in the will. Alternatively, if you are ‘tenants in common’, meaning you each own a share of the property, your share of the home will pass to whoever you specify in your will. If you are joint tenants and you want to make sure that your ex doesn’t get your share of the property in the event that you die before your divorce is finalised, it’s necessary to switch to being tenants in common.
All this technical jargon can seem confusing, but in essence the process is straightforward. All you have to do is write to your spouse saying that you want to sever the joint tenancy. Note that your ex doesn’t have to agree with this. As long as you fill in the relevant Land Registry form, you can complete the change regardless.
If you have a mortgage, this should also be high up on your list of protection priorities. Bear in mind that if you have a joint mortgage, you and your ex are equally liable for the sum and any missed payments could harm your credit rating. Make sure you inform your lender that you are getting a divorce. This is especially important if you’re concerned that you might have problems making your repayments or you think your ex may not keep up their end of the deal.
There are your bank accounts to think about too. If you and your spouse have joint accounts, make sure you contact the relevant banks as soon as possible to explain your situation. You may want to request a change in the way your accounts are set up so that both of you have to agree to money being withdrawn. Another approach is to freeze your accounts. However, bear in mind that to unfreeze them, both of you will have to agree.
You might also wish to stop any regular payments that you make into your joint accounts.
Applying to the court
In addition, it may be worth your while applying to the court to prevent your ex from transferring, selling or otherwise getting rid of assets, or from moving overseas, if you think this would prevent you from getting a fair settlement.
There’s no denying that getting a divorce can throw up a multitude of financial complications. However, by acting fast, making sure you know your rights and enlisting the help of suitable solicitors, you should be able to achieve a fair outcome.